Thursday, 4 December 2014

PREVIEW: Cinderella and the Beanstalk - Theatre503, Battersea

IT'S panto season and while many of the bigger theatres in the region are concentrating their efforts on just one story, Theatre503 in Battersea is doing something a bit different.
The Latchmere Road theatre is staging Cinderella And The Beanstalk, devised by award-winning comedy trio Sleeping Trees.
The company is made up of long-time friends John Woodburn, James Dunnell-Smith and Joshua George Smith, all aged 25, and they promise a panto with a twist.
The plot is a good one. A theatre company has booked the venue and they’ve bought the costumes. But, there’s just one problem. They’ve forgotten to cast any actors.
Luckily for all concerned, these boys aren’t the kind of people to let an obstacle like this get in the way so they’re just going to have to play all the parts themselves.
"It is a mash up of everyone’s favourite pantomimes," explains Josh. "We've taken the traditional panto idea and given it a modern twist and part of that has been to pack in as many of the stories as we can.
“Anyone who comes to see the show will recognise all the characters. This time though they all feature in one story - it's quite a hoot!"
The show the boys put on centres on Cinderella who goes on a perilous adventure. The scheming Rumpelstiltskin blackmails the would-be princess to retrieve the coveted golden eggs from the top of the beanstalk in order to recover her glass slipper.
But with Prince Charming, the Fairy Godmother and Jack's pregnant cow all doing their best to get in the way, the delicious, oversized eggs may not be so easy to reach.
With so much to cram in and with only three of them to do it on a relatively bijou stage it has presented the trio with a few challenges.
"This has been the most challenging show we’ve ever done,” says James. “It's a bit out of our comfort zone as we normally don't have any costumes or props and we build the set as we go along but with this show we had to adapt our trademark style a bit.
“There were a few tricky moments in terms of the staging but part of the fun has been trying out different techniques and we’ve really enjoyed the process and bringing the show to life.
“When we were writing the script we actually wanted to bring in more characters but there are only three of us and it’s also quite a small stage. However, because there is so much in it and there are about 40 characters, there is barely a moment when we are still and costume changes have to be very quick!
"It's really funny though and lots of silliness which we love and part of the charm comes from manically having to change costume in a matter of seconds. There's plenty of singing, dancing and fighting that goes on too and it’s deliberately chaotic - although by the end we are exhausted!”
It is the first time the Latchmere Road theatre has put on a festive family show and although John says the trio are really looking forward to it, he admits to a few nerves.
"It's the first Christmas show for the theatre so we are really pleased to be part of that but there is also a certain responsibility to make sure we do a good job," he says.
"For us it’s a new experience too as we’ve never ventured into panto before, or doing a show for younger audiences so we are a bit nervous about it!
“But it’s been great fun devising it and trying to get all those classic stories and characters into one show.
“It’s also been fantastic for us to branch out and do something a bit different and add another string to our bow - we are really excited to see what audiences make of it."

Cinderella And The Beanstalk is on at Theatre503, Latchmere Road from Tuesday December 2 until Saturday January 10. Tickets cost £15 or £12 concession, with a £10 under 16 ticket. Pay what you can Sundays. or call the box office on 020 7978 7040.

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